‘Cooperation under Anarchy’ by Oye, 1985

As we previously agreed on, International Relations operate under ‘anarchy’ which implies that there is no central, higher authority. In addition, we also accepted that sometimes negotiations can fail due to uncertainty caused by this anarchical nature of IR. Therefore, we can infer that under anarchy, it is hard for the states to cooperate especially in issues of ‘high politics’ such as security and power. In ‘Explaining Cooperation under Anarchy: Hypotheses and Strategies’(1985), Oye explains under which conditions states can cooperate departing from some models for instance Prisoners’ Dilemma, Stag Hunt, Payoff Structure and Shadow of the Future. By referring the need for realization of mutual benefit, the author also introduces the concepts of harmony, where one can observe ‘the absence of gain from defection’ and deadlock caused by ‘absence of mutual interest’. (p.7)

In the article, Oye also presents unilateral, bilateral and multilateral strategies linking them to the importance of repeating the game, issue of reciprocity, reliability and number of actors which makes the situation more costly and complex to solve as the problems in transactions, recognition, control problems, sanctioning increases.

When we look at the attempts to create global regimes on various issues, this article can explain very well. For example, postal system, regime on whales, train system could have been achieved but climate change which gives responsibility do decrease carbon emissions, nuclear issue, based on NPT which most nuclear countries have not signed yet are the complex issues makes international arena busy. In addition, when we look at ‘Fight against terrorism’ we can also observe the level of hardship in cooperation under anarchical nature in which they have to survive based on their self-interest and self-help.

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